Cooperage coming: Take heart, Lafayette diners. The long-awaited Cooperage American Grille is eyeing a February opening at last. They're hiring staff (always a good sign), and we just caught a peek at their new American tavern menu, which ranges from a rock shrimp and calamari frito misto appetizer ($10) to rotisserie chicken and pork loin ($16-$18) and all sorts of grilled steaks. Heck, even the children's menu ($6) looks tempting, with a three-cheese mac-n-cheese and junior-sized roti chicken. This is the project from Andrew McCormick (McCormick and Schmick) and exec chef Erik Hopfinger. Details: 32 Fiesta Lane; www.thecooperagelafayette.com
Summer Kitchen? There's construction at Lafayette's downtown park as well, where the Squirrel closed a few months ago. A new Plaza Park development is in the works. Main Street, the developer, just got city approval to start seeking restaurant tenants, and their list is tempting, indeed. Don't get too excited: It's just a first step, and city manager Steve Falk says, Berkeley's Summer Kitchen+Bake Shop may not even know it's at the top of the list. (Speaking as die-hard SK+BS lovers, we say that's a well-prioritized list.) Also on the preapproved list: San Francisco's Peruvian-fusion Mochica and Oakland's District, a wine bar and small-plates place. No clue what we'll actually end up with, but it will make Lafayette construction traffic much easier to bear if the results are delicious.
Grilling gauchos: The first Fogo de Chao churrascaria in Northern California will open this month at San Jose's Santana Row. This is the Brazilian steakhouse chain whose ads you've been seeing for years in airlines' in-flight magazines, leading curious foodies to salivate and wonder why Atlanta, Houston and Minneapolis rated a meat palace and we didn't. At this new location, a dozen types and cuts of meat, from filet mignon to lamb to linguica, will be roasted over an open fire, then served gaucho-style tableside. If you're new to churrascaria-style dining, you'll catch on quickly: First you hit the lavish salad bar of cured meats, cheeses, greens and marinated veggies, then you wait at your table for the skewered meats to come to you. Dinner is served daily, lunch on weekdays only. Details: 377 Santana Row, at Winchester Boulevard and Olin Avenue. 408-244-7001; www.fogodechao.com.
Say it ain't so, Joe: The landmark Daly City restaurant, Joe's of Westlake, closed in late January after 57 years under the Scatena family. It's expected to be reborn in 2015, but until then: Share your memories at blogs.mercurynews.com/eat-drink-play.
Gypsy fare: Over in San Francisco, Gitane -- the muy atmospheric bistro at 6 Claude Lane -- is returning to its Gypsy roots with a new exec chef, Alicia Jenish from Grand Cafe, as well as a new, more rustic menu, new cocktails (hello, Casa Blanca, you naughty blend of turmeric-infused gin, Luxardo and lime) and a Spanish happy hour. Jenish plans to "take Gitane back to its gypsy roots and play with the ideas of Bohemianism and wanderlust." Among the dishes on the launch menu: a pumpkin salad with delicata, pomegranate and manchego; fish tajine; and savory flatbreads. Details: www.gitanerestaurant.com.